AT&T to test 5G wireless service in 12 markets this year

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Verizon announced a similar plan last month

AT&T has announced plans to deploy 5G wireless service in at least a dozen markets by late this year. The company says 5G is a huge step forward in mobile service and it has accelerated efforts to make it a reality.

Melissa Arnoldi, AT&T's president for Technology and Operations, says the emerging technology opens up all sorts of opportunities for both businesses and consumers.

“With faster speeds and ultra-low latency, 5G will ultimately deliver and enhance experiences like virtual reality, future driverless cars, immersive 4K video, and more,” she said.

The company did not identify the 12 markets where it plans to test 5G service, but in recent months it has offered a service it calls "5G Evolution," using several late-stage LTE enhancements, in 23 U.S. cities.

Those markets include Atlanta; Austin; Boston; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Buffalo, New York; Chicago; Fresno, California; Greenville, South Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Louisville; Memphis; Nashville; New Orleans; Oklahoma City; Pittsburgh; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Sacramento, California.

Verizon's plans

As we reported last month, Verizon also plans to roll out 5G service in a limited number of test markets in 2018. At the time, Scott Delacourt, an attorney at Washington, D.C.-based law firm Wiley Rein, told us the progression from 4G to 5G would be a fundamental, not incremental change. Consumers will notice the difference.

"Instead of accommodating hundreds of millions of cell phones and tablets used by people, 5G networks will support billions of connected things," Delacourt told ConsumerAffairs. "This will require a fundamental re-thinking of technologies and networks and identifying a large volume of additional spectrum when radio spectrum is already more intensively used than it has ever been."

Consumers enjoyed faster speeds when 3G gave way to 4G, but experts say the move to 5G networks holds the promise of transforming whole areas of the economy and consumers’ lives. The new wireless technology may be used to connect vehicles to dramatically improve safety and mobility.

Other applications may connect health care devices that take medical care out of the clinical environment and move significant portions of diagnosing and monitoring into consumers’ homes and everyday lives.

In 2017, Verizon tested 5G residential applications in 11 markets. Sacramento, California, will be the first market to get Verizon's 5G services.

According to technology site VentureBeat, Sprint is working with Qualcomm to develop a 5G application it plans to deploy in 2019. T-Mobile reportedly plans roll out its service the following year.

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